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LGBTQIA pride is about rejecting shame and embracing who God made us to be
Those who oppose queer people should heed God’s warnings against pride. Those who listen to our experiences and submit to them, exalt the humble and the meek.
Happy Pride Month! For all of my queer siblings who are out and proud, I stand with you and among you. And for the queer Christians that are doing the same, more power to you. Queer Christians that keep their faith are so inspiring to me because they profess their faith despite oppression and hatred from Christians. It is hard to be a queer Christian, and I want to honor all of my queer Christian friends and family for their courage.
Here’s a sobering conclusion of a study that links queer suicidality with religiosity:
“Lesbians and gays who reported that religion was important to them were 38 percent more likely to have had recent suicidal thoughts. For lesbians only, religion was associated with a 52 percent increased likelihood of suicidal thinking."
Queer people have more suicidal ideation when they name religion as important to them. Suicidality goes down when they name religion as less important to them. And so to stay alive, statistics show that queer people should become less religious. Christians must reckon with the fact that their anti-queer theology is deadly. Our theology is costing us the lives of queer people. If a queer person leaves your church, it is sad to say, that they’re statistically better off. So our job then is to turn the tide and make it so that churches reduce suicidality. The reality is that suicidality is lowered for most church attenders, just not if they are queer, and so it is imperative that we pour resources into changing the toxic results of our community and our deadly theology.
It is increasingly harder, it seems, to stay queer and out, especially if you are a teen. After the landmark Supreme Court case that legalized gay marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges, we have seemed to have a radical and wicked backlash against LGBTQIA rights. All over the country, LBGTQIA rights are being slashed, and the Republican candidates for president seem to all be campaigning on ending the rights of trans teens (you can read more about that here and here). Just a day ago, Nikki Haley, a so-called moderate candidate, suggested trans teens are causing an increase in suicidal ideation in teen girls. Haley’s rhetoric is even more heinous because she ignores the fact that trans teens have higher suicidality and names their plight as one they inflict on others. Meanwhile, Ron DeSantis is codifying his hatred of trans teens in Florida law.
For queer people, though, I want to encourage all of us to be proud of who are and to stand firm in our own identities, despite resistance from those who oppress us. When we think of Pride, I think some Christians are a little confused since pride is a sin, but I do not think LGBTQIA Pride is the pride that the Bible talks about – which is more like arrogance. Instead, I think that naming our pride as “honor,” fits better. Queer pride is the opposite of shame, not the opposite of humility. We don’t stand in arrogance, but we stand without shame, and demand that society honor and dignify us. It is the lack of dignity and honor that leads to us being closeted and even thinking of taking our own life. So queer folks, stand proud, without shame.
For those, though, who want to exploit our marginalization and oppression for their own gain, they are standing in the sinful sort of pride, or arrogance. They are so sure they are morally righteous, they are willing to continue with their ideology, even when it kills people. Here’s Paul’s word on pride to the Romans: “Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead, associate with people who have no status.”
Paul is speaking directly to those who oppress and oppose queer people – the call is to see us as equal, not that you are better than us because you’re straight or cisgendered. It is queer people who are losing their status, and those who think they are so smart, who are taking it from us.
Those opposed to the lives and dignity of queer people would be better off taking a log out of their eye, than the splinter out of their queer sibling’s eye. If they cause a queer person to lose faith, or harm themselves, they’d be better off being thrown into the Sea of Galilee than the judgment that awaits them. They’d be better to stand in humility and humble themselves from their haughty stature.
Pride is about elevating those we have oppressed, not so they reign over others, but so they stand on equal footing with others. Pride is about equality. It is about unity and ending division in our society. If it offends people, it is because those people want to put us back in the closet, and want us to be hidden, and covered up. That sort of closeting is deadly. The Apostle Paul, calls the Corinthian church to give the parts of the body “we think are less honorable” with the most honor. We offer the parts of our body that we think of as not presentable with the “most dignity.” Pride then is about giving the most honor and dignity to the ones we’ve oppressed the most.
The ones who oppress us should stand in shame because their theology leads to death. Those who support and love queer people, who stand in humility and humbly submit to our experience, are the ones who exemplify the meekness and humility that the Bible writers speak of. Those who are proud of themselves for how they oppress us should take heed of God’s warning against the proud. Queer people who stand proud are doing so because of who God made us to be. We are proud of ourselves as a member of God’s created. Being proud of who God made us is an act of worship to our Creator. When a queer person embraces their identity, they are thanking and honoring their Creator. When they are forced into closets, they are being forced to be ashamed of who they are. And those who shame them are denying the beauty in God’s creation, desecrating one that God loves. Honoring queer people and allowing them to take pride in themselves, honors and gives glory to God.